“Bares for Rares”: Horst Lichter holds the memory card for a cat’s comb

“Bares for Rares”
Horst Lichter thinks it’s a cat’s comb – but the part was part of the Apollo moon program

Scene from “Bares for Rares”: Horst Lichter wonders what exactly Detlev Kümmel is investigating.


Not only Horst Lichter puzzled over what the object is all about. But the ring core memory card from 1969 provided a rapid finish in the dealer room of “Bares for Rares”.

“A cat’s comb,” Horst Lichter suspects when he sees the strange part that Detlev Kümmel is inspecting in the “Bares for Rares” expert room. In fact, it is a toroidal memory card, as the spouses Lotti and Werner Tillmanns report. It was given to him by a friend in 1981. The map was made in 1969 and comes from the first generation of digital computers developed for the Saturn rocket in the Apollo lunar program.

However, the capacity of the hand-sized part was limited: the 256-bit memory is just enough for 32 letters. Detlev Kümmel uses the map to explain the technical progress of the past decades: Today’s mobile phones have up to 256 gigabytes, according to the expert. For one gigabyte you would need 31.25 million ring core memories. An unimaginable size. “But that would be a giant cell phone,” Lichter marvels and wonders how they got the Apollo rocket into the air with it. “With the resources we had at the time, we achieved incredible things,” says Kümmel, summarizing the presentation.

The Tillmanns’ would like 300 euros – but the expert does not want to confirm the price. He sees the ring core memory at 100 euros. For this Werner Tillmanns would sell as the absolute pain limit. And he also achieves this at the auction. Although the traders do not initially know what they are dealing with either. “Is that art or can it go?” asks Elke Velten-Tönnies. But Julian Schmitz-Avila has the right idea. When he heard about the handwritten year 1969, he speculated: “Maybe I was on the moon.”

Since no one really knows what the part is worth, the auction is slow. Esther Ollick places the highest bid with 100 euros. This puts her right at the level of expertise, but Werner Tillmanns doesn’t want to sell for it. He would like 150 euros.

Ollick initially raises by 10 euros, but then things suddenly start to move: Schmitz-Avila offers the required 150 euros, but is immediately outbid by Fabian Kahl. And Esther Ollick is suddenly generous and offers 170 euros. “I still need a wedding present,” says the dealer. But the last word has still not been said: Julian Schmitz-Avila puts 200 euros on the table – the deal is made and the sellers leave the room happy.

source: “Bares for Rares” in the ZDF media library

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